Jade plants, or more specifically, Crassula ovata, are popular houseplants that can live for decades with proper care. In my experience, jade plants are generally some of the easiest plants to care for at home, but you definitely need to get a few details right. In this guide, I’ll share my essential plant care and growing tips for jade plants.
Jade Plant Care – The Essentials
|Common Name:||Jade Plant, Money Plant|
|Scientific Name:||Crassula ovata|
|Native Range:||South Africa|
|Soil:||Well-draining cactus or succulent mix; neutral to slightly acidic pH|
|Light:||Full to partial sun; benefits from at least 4 hours of sunlight each day|
|Watering:||Water thoroughly when the soil is completely dry; allow excess water to drain; less water is required in the winter|
|Temperature:||Ideal range is between 55-75°F (14-25°C); can tolerate temperatures as low as 50°F (10°C)|
|Fertilizing:||Feed with a balanced liquid fertilizer specifically for succulents, diluted to half strength once every three months during the growing season (spring and summer)|
|Pruning:||Prune to maintain desired size and shape; can also propagate from leaves or stem cuttings|
|Pests:||Common pests include aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites; can be managed with regular cleaning, appropriate watering, and the use of insecticidal soaps or neem oil if needed|
|Toxicity:||Toxic to pets if ingested; non-toxic to humans but it’s always best to keep plants out of reach from pets and small children|
How to Grow Jade Plants at Home
Unlike many other tropical or warm-weather plants, jade plants are easy enough to grow at home if you can provide bright and direct light. Jade plants are also perfect for a range of living spaces, from small and tiny apartments to larger open spaces.
Jade Plant Growth Expectations
They’re slow-growing, but eventually, they’ll get big enough you’ll need to plan for them from the beginning. Jade plants can top out at anywhere from 6 to 10 feet in height after a few decades of growth. Pruning can keep the plant as small as you like, but eventually, it may need propagation from a cutting instead. Expect the plant to only grow about 2 to 3 inches in height per year with the best care.
Preparing for Planting
While jade plants do eventually grow large, they usually start out very small. They need to be somewhat rootbound to thrive, so keep the potting vessel sized to the root ball of the plant. Don’t give the plant more than half an inch or soil of loose soil between the roots and the vessel. Make sure to choose a warm location that is free from drafts.
The Best Soil Mix for Jade Plants
As a desert plant, Crassula ovata grows best in a light and airy soil mix. Try a product designed for cacti and orchids. Keep the pH slightly acidic at around 6.0. If you have to mix your own, aim for 1 part peat moss, 1 part aged compost or other organic material, and 3 parts coarse pebble and sand mix. This will encourage good drainage and keep the jade plant from rotting. You can also mix in coir and crushed pumice. Position the jade plant so its roots are just covered by the soil and the base of its stem is exposed. Burying the stem at all will cause it to rot rather than root.
For more, see our essential guide to the best soil mix for jade plants.
Jade Plant Light Preferences
Jade plants have a strong need for bright, well-lit environments to truly thrive. If they don’t get enough light, they’ll get spindly with weak leaves and very slow growth. Aim for a spot near a south or east-facing window, skylight, or sunroom. You’ll likely need to provide supplemental lighting for at least part of the year. They only need about 4 hours of direct light per day though so be careful to find the right balance between direct and indirect light (partially drawn blinds can help disperse some of the direct sun rays). If you’re using a light, try to provide at least 200 watts or the equivalent to keep the plant growing steadily.
Temperature and Humidity Preferences
Like many other desert plants, jade plants can handle average home humidity levels just fine. Don’t place them near heating vents or other sources of hot, dry air, but 30% to 50% humidity is where they thrive (just like humans). Keep them above 50 degrees F at all times. Jade plants can handle cooler temperatures, around 55 to 60 degrees F, in the winter, but they prefer to stay in the 70s when actively growing in the spring and summer.
Jade Plant Care
How to Water Jade Plants
Jade plants are tricky to keep perfectly watered. Since they’re desert plants, they can handle a little drying out. Yet their succulent-type leaves won’t show signs of water stress until the plant is nearly dead. Try to keep the soil moist but never soggy in the summer when temperatures are high. Ensure water drains rapidly so it’s never actually sitting around the roots.
A good trick is to feel the top of the soil regularly and water it when it feels dry to the touch. When winter arrives, and the plant is kept in cooler temperatures, only water once the soil is completely dry. This watering will usually only occur once a month, even for the largest plants. Water thoroughly until it runs out of the pot through the bottom, and use filtered or rainwater for the best results.
For more, see our in-depth guide to watering Jade plants at home.
How and When to Fertilize Jade Plants
As slow growers, jade plants only need a fraction of the fertilizer required by some houseplants. Only fertilize your plant with a balanced houseplant solution once every six months. Ensure the soil is thoroughly wet before applying any liquid fertilizers since jade plant roots are quickly burned. Avoid fertilizers high in nitrogen alone since jade plants are designed to grow slowly.
Pruning Jade Plants
Pruning can be used at almost any time to control the height, width, and shape of the jade plant. They’re not too sensitive to having stems and leaves removed, which is part of their popularity as bonsai. It’s not necessary for the health of the plant, but it’s the only way to control how it looks. Never remove more than 20 percent of the plant’s total growth at once. Give it a few months of summer growth to recover before returning to make another trim.
Propagating New Plants
One of the reasons jade plants are so popular is their easy propagation cycle. Leaves and branches often fall off on their own and start rooting right in the pot. Almost any piece you trim off when pruning that has leaves or bud nodules has a chance to root and grow. Cuttings should be at least three inches long for the best results.
Let the cutting dry for a day, then place it on a tray of damp vermiculite and peat moss. Mist the tray only when it dries out, and you’ll soon see new roots forming on the jade plant cutting.
When and How to Repot Jade Plants
Jade plants love to be rootbound, so don’t rush to repot them constantly. If you notice growth stalling out, try sizing up by just ¼ to ½ an inch of soil around the roots. Let the plant dry out and gently remove it from the pot.
Knock loose any old soil clinging to the outside of the roots, then gently place it in the new empty pot. Sift in the soil, mix around the root ball, and gently tamp it all down. Once you’ve repotted your jade plant, it shouldn’t need a new vessel for at least a few years.
Common Problems & How to Treat Them
Watch Out For:
- Soft drooping leaves that are wrinkled and fall off easily: Underwatering is usually the culprit, although overwatering can cause the same symptoms. If the roots look healthy, try watering more.
- Yellow leaves that dry up from the tip inward: Overwatering is more likely than underwatering with color changes. Look for black or slimy roots and trim them off, then change the soil mix for better drainage and water less frequently (for more, see our in-depth guide on fixing jade plant leaves turning yellow or brown).
- Leaf drop: Aside from watering issues, leaf drop on jade plants is a sign of low temperatures or humidity. Keep the plant a little warmer and try a very light misting of the plant.
Common Pests and Diseases
Jade plants are fairly disease and pest-resistant, but there are a few issues that affect them.
- Mealybugs: Look closely at the joints where the leaves meet the stem. If you notice blobs of white cotton-like material, you have mealybugs. That white fluff is honeydew, a sign the bugs are sucking your plant’s sap. It can turn black as sooty mold grows on it. Clean your plants thoroughly with a Q-tip soaked in rubbing alcohol once a week until the signs of mealybugs subside.
- Spider mites: They’re less common than mealybugs, but they cover the underside of leaves with fine webs. You may notice brown or black mottling on the leaves as well. Oils and soaps usually used for these pests can kill jade plants due to their unique respiration cycle, so stick with alcohol wipes and swabs to remove the mites manually.
Essential Tools to Have Around
A moisture probe is recommended since jade plants need a lot of water but are also prone to root rot. The meter will tell you when the soil is drying out enough to water again without risking drowning the roots. If you plan to bonsai your jade plant, you’ll also want a selection of fine pruning shears and snips. General houseplant fertilizer is fine for jade plants since they only need occasional feeding.
About Jade Plants
Origins, Native Range and History
Crassula ovata is native only to specific parts of Mozambique and South Africa. It’s found growing wild in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces, but it’s now cultivated and sold worldwide as a houseplant. In its native environment, it receives little water and a lot of harsh sunlight, so it’s a relatively tough plant despite its beauty. Many Jade plant types are among the oldest houseplants, with over 100 years of continuous cultivation.
Jade Plant Botanical Characteristics
As an evergreen that grows in a hot and dry environment, most jade plant varieties feature thick and fleshy leaves in colors ranging from lime to dark green. Most types develop red tips to the leaves when given plenty of direct sunlight. The stems become woody and exposed as the plant grows, making it a shrub or tiny tree.
Crassula ovata vs Pachira aquatica – Money Plant vs Money Tree
While Crassula ovata is commonly called the jade plant or money plant, it’s easy to confuse it for the Pachira aquatica. Pachira plants are also called money plants or money trees.
These plants have long and thin leaves with a softer texture, unlike the jade plant’s short, plump, and rounded leaves. Both make good houseplants, but they have different needs and won’t thrive if confused with each other.
Jade Plant Cultivars
‘Monstruosa’ is the most popular cultivar for indoor growth thanks to its large size. Also named ‘Gollum’ or ‘Hobbit’, this variety features tube-shaped leaves that really show off the stem. ‘Undulata’ is popular for being packed with wavy leaves that form a solid mass, while ‘Bronze Beauty’ offers copper-colored leaves for a different look.
Jade plants are among some of the longest-living houseplants with proper care. Plenty of specimens over 50 years old in private homes are still thriving. There are no records of how long a jade plant can live. The plant has no specific lifespan and can grow as long as you keep it happy. If you’re successful enough, you may have to hand your plant down to a new caretaker.
Toxicity of Jade Plants
Crassula ovata is toxic to cats, dogs, and horses and mildly irritating to some people when touched. If you have pets that like to chew on plants, keep the jade plant on a shelf or table they can’t reach. Large jade plants can be pruned so that leaves and small stems aren’t accessible to pets.
Uses and Benefits
Due to its toxicity and slow growth, the jade plant’s primary use is simply decoration. However, jade plants offer lots of benefits and are one of the top plants for improving indoor air quality. NASA’s latest study on indoor air pollution found that jade plants were the best at absorbing toluene. Toluene can negatively affect the entire nervous system, so it’s something you definitely don’t want in the air.
Jade Plants Meaning & Symbolism
As their common name suggests, many cultures use the Jade plant to represent wealth. Its rounded leaves look like coins. The bright to dark green color is associated with both growth and money in many places. In Feng Shui, it’s primarily used to draw in good luck and is traditionally placed near the door.
Jade Plant Care FAQs:
Does jade plant need direct sunlight?
Jade plants have a strong need for bright, well-lit environments to thrive truly. They’ll get spindly with weak leaves and prolonged growth if they don’t get enough light. Aim for a spot near a south or east-facing window, skylight, or sunroom. You’ll likely need to provide supplemental lighting for at least part of the year. They only need about 4 hours of direct light daily, so be careful to find the right balance between direct and indirect sunlight (partially drawn blinds can help disperse some direct sun rays).
Why are the leaves on my jade plant falling off?
Aside from water issues, leaf drop on jade plants indicates low temperatures or humidity. Keep the plant a little warmer and try a very light misting of the plant.
How do you care for a jade plant indoors?
Jade plants thrive in temperatures between 55 and 75 degrees F but only need average humidity levels. Give them at least four hours of bright light per day. Keep the soil light and well-draining with a pH of around 6.0. Water regularly in the summer but only when the soil is dry in winter.
Do jade plants like to be misted?
A very light misting with filtered water can benefit the plant, but be careful not to saturate the foliage, as stagnant water can lead to fungal infections, pests, and diseases.
Are coffee grounds good for jade plants?
As a general rule, I’d recommend not adding coffee grounds to the soil base as it’s really difficult to control the acidity level in the soil base. A good all-purpose succulent or cacti fertilizer is a better alternative.
How do I make my jade plant bushy?
Pruning can help to promote new growth and also present the Jade plant as fuller and bushier.
What is the best potting soil for Jade plants?
As a desert plant, Crassula ovata grows best in a light and airy soil mix. Try a product designed for cacti and orchids. Keep the pH slightly acidic at around 6.0. If you have to mix your own, aim for 1 part peat moss, 1 part aged compost or other organic material, and three parts coarse pebble and sand mix.
Should you prune jade plants?
Pruning can be used at almost any time to control the jade plant’s height, width, and shape. They’re not too sensitive to having their stems and leaves removed, which is part of their popularity as bonsai. It’s not necessary for the plant’s health, but it’s the only way to control its appearance. Never remove more than 20 percent of the plant’s total growth at once.
How do you multiply jade plants?
One of the reasons jade plants are so popular is their easy propagation cycle. Leaves and branches often fall off independently and start rooting right in the pot. Almost any piece you trim off when pruning that has leaves or bud nodules has a chance to root and grow. Cuttings should be at least three inches long for the best results. Let the cutting dry for a day, then place it on a tray of damp vermiculite and peat moss.
How do I know if my jade plant is overwatered?
Yellow leaves that dry up from the tip inward with noticeable changes in the plant’s color are common signs of overwatering. Look for black or slimy roots and trim them off, then change the soil mix for better drainage and water less.
Jade Plant Care – Wrapping Up
As one of the easiest houseplants to care for, it’s no wonder jade plants remain popular today. They’re not quite as showy as other plants but reliable and fun to prune into cool shapes. Pick up a few new jade plants for your collection now that you know how to best care for them.
Andrew is the Editorial Director at Petal Republic. He holds a BSc degree in Plant Sciences and has trained professionally at leading floristry schools in London and Paris. In amongst overseeing a global editorial team, Andrew's a passionate content creator around all things flowers, floral design, gardening, and houseplants.